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Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle

Capt. Alex Crawford
May 26, 2007
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report


For a change and to attempt to spice up my normal fishing reports, this week I have chosen to write about a spectacular trip I took last week into the Florida Everglades. An old friend and I booked a trip with Captain Charles Wright, fishing guide extraordinaire out of Everglades City. Our plan was to spend a day targeting big snook out in the wilderness of the Everglades. What impressed us immediately was the phenomenal raw beauty of this wild and wonderful place. The flora and fauna of this amazing chunk of shallow water rivals even the Forgotten Coast of Florida. Our exploration vehicle for the fishing adventure was the perfect tool for the job—a 20 foot Maverick flats boat, pushed by a Yamaha outboard. We could run at warp speed through a few inches of water, as we moved between fishing areas. The Glades are simply an overgrown mangrove swamp with a few high places that are islands, ten thousand of them. I’ve never seen a tree so tough to withstand the salty environment. When we hung our lures in the mangrove branches, it took a chain saw to free them. Snook hang out under the mangrove branches in the shade waiting to ambush bait fish.

It was amazing how our guide was able to negotiate around the islands to put us on fish. We traveled into remote areas and it all looks the same to me. He never needed to consult his GPS, he moved around by familiar landmarks. This is a skill finely acquired by hundreds of hours fishing the area. If an angler were to get lost out there, he may never be found. This is when a good guide earns his money.

The morning started slowly as we waited for the tide to move some water. Some parts of this swamp are brackish and others complete brine. Snook, tarpon and other species can tolerate these changes in salinity. I tasted the water in one area and it was like licking a salt block. It was saltier than even Gulf waters. Finding the right brackish areas is one big key to angling success.

Around mid-morning we found a small island with a deep hole down wind of it. After changing lures to get deeper, we scored multiple sea trout, all around 16-17 inches. Our most productive lure was a silver minnow with two treble hooks. It was neutrally buoyant, perfect for casting into shallow or deeper spots.

Happy to have a few trout in the box for dinner, we moved on deeper into the Glades in search of snook. I learned it is pronounced like food. It was not long before out guide had us in a deep creek, casting for laid up snook. In the space of about 30 minutes we were fortunate to catch and release a half dozen nice fish that averaged about 12 pounds apiece.

Snook really fight hard coming up and tail-walking on the surface. It is a real adrenalin rush to feel the hard pull of a quality fish screaming across the top of the water, right at the boat. Good drag systems are a necessity. Braided line is another good idea with all the snags that can cut you off. These big fish fit perfectly into their rough environment. They are just as tough as the mangroves they live around.

By midday we all had our fill of casting in the 90 degree sun. The trip back to the dock was exhilarating, as we ran at wide open throttle back to the hill. Our primary objectives were accomplished—seeing the natural beauty of the Glades and hanging a few nice snook. Can’t wait now to go again!

Till next tide, tight lines and solid hook ups,

Captain Alex Crawford

(850) 697-8946

website: www.topknots.com

email: captainalex@topknots.com

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Captain Alex Crawford is a full time guide who has fished the Florida Panhandle offshore for 26 years. He specializes in grouper and snapper trips with light tackle on live bait. Custom trips for companies with multiple boats will be arranged. Inshore trips targeting specific species and custom eco trips are available for birding, gator watching, shelling, picnics and barrier islands. Contact Captain Alex for a fun and productive trip on Florida's Forgotten Coast.

Contact Info:

Topknots Charters
P. O. Box 1029
Carrabelle, FL 32322
Phone: 850-697-8946
Alt. Phone: same
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